Centre's multiple initiatives to enhance oxygen availability, distribution and storage infrastructure
Oxygen production has been enhanced and new plants have been installed
The central government on Monday said that it had taken a number of initiatives to enhance the availability of oxygen, its distribution and storage infrastructure. The steps include augmenting the entire oxygen supply chain.
"Oxygen availability has been enhanced by increase in production capacity and production, setting up of pressure swing adsorption (PSA) plants, import of liquid medical oxygen (LMO) from overseas, and procurement of oxygen concentrators," the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said.
It added that a digital tracking system has been set up for real time monitoring.
Talking about increasing the production, the government said that oxygen production had increased from 5700 MT per day in August last year to 9,446 MT per day in May this year.
"Commensurate with the increase in production and demand, LMO sale in the country has also increased from about 1,300 MT/day in March’ 21 to 8,920 MT/day on 6th May," the government said.
The sale of LMO grew more than five-fold - from 1559 MT per day on March 31, 2021 to over 8,000 MT per day by May 3, 2021, it added.
Talking about capacity enhancement plans, the government said that supply of oxygen for non-essential industrial purposes has been prohibited from April 22, resulting in about 1,000 MT of additional oxygen availability.
"Additional capacity expansion of 630 MT/day is also planned by the steel sector."
Thousands of PSA plants are also being set up under PM-Cares through the Union health ministry, the government added.
Apart from this, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) is actively assisting in securing sources of oxygen from abroad, the Centre said, adding that procurement of one lakh oxygen concentrators has been sanctioned under PM-Cares Fund.
Many states have pointed to issues in oxygen supply, urging the Centre to increase their quota of oxygen to save lives of Covid-19 patients.
The Centre said that it used the formula of the union health ministry to estimate oxygen requirement for each state in line with active cases there, and maximum efforts were made to align oxygen allocation to the estimated demand for each state.
"Oxygen allocation to states/UTs is dynamic in nature, based on requirement as per health ministry norms, and consultation with states/UTs, manufacturers and other stakeholders.
There is a mismatch between producing and consuming states, and equity among states to be maintained," said the Centre.
Further, it noted that multiple interventions have been undertaken to improve tanker availability.
“Availability of Oxygen Tankers has been improved with conversion of Nitrogen & Argon Tankers & their Imports. In March 2020, the capacity of tankers was 12,480 MT and their number was 1040. Now, the capacity of tankers has gone up to 23,056 MT and their number has increased to 1681, which includes 408 converted tankers and 101 imported tankers,” the statement said.
“408 out of the 1,105 Nitrogen and Argon Tankers have been converted into oxygen carrying tankers so far; and another 200 tankers will be converted shortly. 248 oxygen tankers are being imported, with 101 tankers imported so far and another 58 tankers to be imported in next 10 days; In addition, 100 tankers are being manufactured domestically,” it added.
Besides, a web and app based Oxygen Digital Tracking System (ODTS) has been launched to enable real time tracking of Oxygen movement in the country. Its objectives are effective and instantaneous communication of allocation orders to plants and dispatches from plants, and to enable real-time tracking of Oxygen movement in the country from Plants to States.
The system integrates with GSTN database for E-waybill based data entry, Tracking of tankers through GPS, SIM (Driver Mobile No.), FASTag, and Automated alerts from system for route deviation, unintended stoppages, and delays.
Besides, a virtual Central Control Room has been established with officers from Additional / Joint secretary officers of Health, Road, Rail, Industry, Steel and from State Govt. The Control Room is monitoring Oxygen movement 24 X 7 and to resolve any issues in oxygen transportation.